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Russia Sends Billions to Turkey for Nuclear Plant Construction

Russia Turkey nuclear plant
A model of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant in Mersin, Turkey. Public Domain

Russia is transferring billions of dollars to Turkey for the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant in southern Turkey, Bloomberg reported on Friday.

Russian state-owned company Rosatom sent around $5 billion last week to its Turkish subsidiary which is building the plant, Akkuyu Nuclear JSC, while similar amounts are earmarked for this week and the following, according to Bloomberg.

The construction site in the Mersin province is the largest of its kind around the globe, but Rosatom said in a statement that “the current transactions are significantly lower” than the figure provided by the Turkish officials.

The company, however, declined to comment further, saying the financing agreements for the project are private.

An Anadolu Agency (AA) report later confirmed the transfer of $5 billion, which it said came after Treasury and Finance Minister Nureddin Nebati’s meeting with the Russian side.

The project has received financing from Russia’s biggest lenders, Sberbank and Sovcombank, both under Western sanctions due to the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Turkish officials who spoke to Bloomberg said financing is to cover all procurement needs for the Akkuyu plant over the next two years.

Turkey’s nuclear plant project to start operation by 2026

The Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), the largest energy project implemented by Turkey and Russia, was unveiled in a groundbreaking ceremony attended by officials from both countries and is being constructed under a cooperation agreement signed in 2010.

The first unit of the plant, out of a total of four, is scheduled to become operational by mid-2023. The remaining three reactors are due to start operation by the end of 2026 at a rate of one per year to ultimately have a total installed capacity of 4,800 megawatts (MW).

Once completed, the plant, which is expected to produce 35 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity annually, will fulfill about 10 percent of domestic electricity needs, according to a previous statement by Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez.

Akkuyu is the world’s first NPP project implemented through a build-own-operate model. Under the long-term contract, Rosatom has agreed to provide the power plant’s design, construction, maintenance, operation, and decommissioning.

Nuclear weapons suspicions

Despite Turkey’s claims the plant will only be used to diversify energy resources, some have suggested Ankara may have plans to enrich uranium.

Al Jazeera reported recently that Turkey and nuclear-armed Pakistan have had military cooperation agreements intensified recently with some news reports suggesting Islamabad may be covertly supporting a nuclear weapons program.

Military cooperation deals were signed recently with Kazakhstan, a country providing at least 35 percent of the world’s uranium.

Asked by Al Jazeera about possible nuclear cooperation with Pakistan, the senior energy official in Ankara said during meetings in Vienna there have been talks about possible cooperation on peaceful use under IAEA control, especially in radiation technologies and cancer treatment.

Related: Greece Alarmed by Turkish Nuclear Plans on Chernobyl Anniversary

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